The first time I learned that my baby brother could fly was in the middle of the winter of 1976. He was four years old and all excited about going sledding with his two older brothers. Our mother had entrusted us with his life and in retrospect she either knew of his super powers or she was not aware that we were lacking in the super power of wisdom.
My brother and I were very familiar with the intensity and dangers of this particular hill. As we stood at the top we both would plan out our route. We would stand behind our sled and move like bowlers do moving our bodies side with each vitural turn. We imagined our trip down this old alley that we called our sledding mountain. The top section had been paved and built up over the years. It allowed for a straight and fast build up of speed in the first 100 yards. The last 200 yards of the hill began at the end of the pavement with sharp drop of 6ft to the old dirt surface. From there the hill made a slight banking left turn which was a blessing because just to right was the remains of an old house built into the hill. The wood part of the house had long since rotted away but the concrete back wall and basement structures were mostly still there. In the summer we used this area as a castle but in the winter it was a drop of 18 feet to the bottom. However, we were experts at sledding and besides the hill always gently pushed us to the left away from this drop off.
That year the plastic steering sled came out. Its was a plastic toboggan sled with two movable handles built into the sides. If you pulled on both of them it would act as a break or if you pulled on just one of them you could steer the sled in that direction. It was a technological advance beyond most sledding experts of our time.
It was probably this new sled that lead to our decision to allow our baby brother to attempt the full length of our sledding mountain. After all with this new sled, my older brother remarked with disappointment, "Our expert skills in sledding will no longer be needed. Even our baby brother Scott can go down the most difficult of hills and be safe."
So we placed our 4 year-old brother in the new steering sled and we both got behind him to push. When you remember back on memories like this one, it is easy to see the error of your ways. I mean he was 4 and at most 35 lbs and we were older, bigger and more aware of the power of gravity. Just the same we both pushed with every ounce of our strength. As Scott and the sled began to travel faster than we could run we both fell face first into the snow.
In that moment of time everything slowed down enough for us to rethink our actions. In those few seconds wisdom drifted into our pre-adolescent minds or maybe it was simply fear of what our mother would do to us if any harm came to our little brother.
Whichever one it was, we both jumped up, wiped the impacted snow from our eyes just in time to see the sled with my brother drop out of site as it went over the first drop off. We began to run as fast as or snow boots would allow screaming his name, thinking somehow that might distract him and he would fall off the sled and stop in the snow. Instead, Scott seemed to be fully relaxed and in control. He hovered over the snow, leaning into the turns as if he was a professional sledder. Then in a moment of amazement we watched as he tugged slightly on the right handle and began to head straight for the rise that lead to the 18 foot drop off into the old foundation.
My older brother and I stood there in awe as Scott and that sled seemed to hang in mid air for minutes. It seemed at first like he was flying but that was also the first time he began to believe in gravity too. In one blink of my eye lids he dropped out of sight and down into the that deep hole.
We ran as fast as we could, preparing ourselves for the worst and thinking of what mother was going to say. As we crested the hill and peered over the wall and down into the human made cavern we could see him. We could see him still sitting in his sled, laughing and bouncing up and down on the old bed springs that had both cushioned his fall and latched on to his sled.
Its a true story... and my baby brother did fly that day... He has since grown up and found new and different super powers. That's a story for another day!